English musician Goldie may have inadvertently revealed Banksy‘s true identity. Sleuths have tried for years to divine the real name of the anonymous street art legend, but in the end, it may all come down to a slip of the tongue in a podcast interview.
The long-time musician and DJ, in a conversation with spoken-word poet and hip-hop musician Scroobius Pip for his Distraction Pieces podcast, strayed into what appears to be risky territory talking about the street artist. “Give me a bubble letter and put it on a t-shirt and write ‘Banksy’ on it and we’re sorted,” he said, discussing the salability of all things Banksy. “We can sell it now. No disrespect to Robert, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over.”
If Banksy’s first name is Robert, it lends credence to a theory first floated by intrepid journalist Craig Williams in September 2016. Williams asserted that Banksy is actually Robert Del Naja, co-founder of the trip-hop group Massive Attack, with whom Goldie is friendly. To shore up his argument, Williams pointed out that the appearance of Banksy murals and exhibitions has often followed Massive Attack gigs in various cities, from San Francisco to Toronto to Los Angeles. To further his theory, Williams also points out that Del Naja was a street artist in the 1980s and that Del Naja and Banksy (assuming they are not the same person) are friends.
A few months later, Williams noted another example of an apparent Banksy popping up in proximity to a Massive Attack show in Helsinki. This month, the journalist found deeper meaning in the street artist’s career relative to current events in his post “From Spanish Brothel to Brexit Commentary: How Banksy’s Journey From Obscurity to Omnipresence Acts as Metaphor for the Current Climate Concerning Britain’s Relationship with Europe.”
Williams’s theory, if true, would mean the overlap of one of the world’s most-recognizable bands with one of the world’s most-popular artists. Two Massive Attack records, Blue Lines and Mezzanine, appear on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and murals by Banksy are treated by fans with the reverence accorded by the faithful to sightings of the Virgin Mary.
One listener quickly picked up on Goldie’s seeming slip of the tongue.
At a concert in his hometown of Bristol the week after Williams’s theory spread like wildfire, Del Naja aimed to discredit it, declaring ambiguously, “We are all Banksy.”
“Rumors of my secret identity are greatly exaggerated,” he told the Daily Mail. “It would be a good story but sadly not true. Wishful thinking I think.”
Contacted by artnet News, Williams suggested that he’d seen it all coming, saying via email, “I kinda always knew that ‘Goldie’ would lead me on the path to fame and fortune.”
Representatives of Massive Attack’s record label, Virgin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Follow artnet News on Facebook.